Often cave location requires the use of surface indirect techniques, such as geophysical methods. In particular, electrical methods have been applied to cavity exploration with evident success. However, as any other indirect methods, the use of these techniques has advantages and disadvantages. Cavities may be too small, too deep or masked by local geology to be detected. Nevertheless, indirect methods provide non-invasive, low cost and fast techniques to carry out the reconnaissance of an area where the presence of cavities is suspected. Complex geological conditions and formations anisotropy can induce strong orientational variation on ground resistivity measurements and, therefore, mask the presence of caves. Herein a field study in an old mining area demonstrates that 2D resistivity data—electrical resistivity tomography (ERT)—can be strongly affected by local anisotropy that masks the presence of cavities in ERT data modelling. In these cases, specific field strategies must be considered to overcome misleading interpretations and modelling, so that, meaningful results are obtained, uncertainty and interpretation ambiguity are reduced and the correct diagnosis of caves is accomplished.
Part of the book: Cave Investigation